Carma Mohler Grant Spotlight | Iowa United Methodist Foundation

Creston Area Food Pantry

May 20, 2022

Creston Area Food Pantry’s mission statement

The Foundation staff recently had the honor of visiting the Creston Area Food Pantry, a 2021 recipient of a Carma Mohler Hunger Grant. We awarded this organization a grant due to their mission statement (above) and due to the high volume of people they help. In the 2020-2021 fiscal year, this pantry purchased over 202,000 pounds of food and served nearly 11,000 individuals in Creston and the surrounding areas! On the day we visited, they had just served 114 people on the preceding Sunday. The Foundation loves helping deserving groups like this continue to grow and serve their communities.

The Creston Area Food Pantry is one of the most impressive food pantries we, as a staff, have ever seen. They are open from 12-2pm every Sunday, but usually folks start to arrive as early as 8:30am! Some people drive from over an hour and a half to get there. When a person or family arrives, they are given a number and wait until it is their turn to “shop.” They can then wait outside or in the spacious waiting area. When it is their turn, a volunteer takes them to the shopping center and they are able to select the items they want. On the 1st Sunday of the month, the pantry offers personal care items such as detergent and toilet paper in addition to food. A big part of their mission statement is helping people feel dignified while accepting charity, and one way they do this is by offering shopping carts so it feels like a true shopping experience. The shopping area is made to look as much as possible like a grocery store, complete with aisles, a frozen foods section and a baby items section. They also take care to hang signs letting folks know who donated different foods. Major donors include HyVee, Fareway, Wal-mart and Zeb’s Smokehouse.

Clockwise from top left: the pantry’s spacious waiting room, grocery carts for shoppers to use, shelves with donated foods and signs crediting that week’s donors.

The entire organization is run by volunteers; local churches take turns providing volunteers to work each Sunday (the Methodist church is the third Sunday of the month). They also utilize anyone who is needing community service hours, such as individuals from the juvenile system or the National Honor Society. Board member Jodi Rushing told us it typically takes 12-15 volunteers to run the entire program on any given Sunday, including people to greet, admit customers to the shopping area, load bags and boxes into cars, restock and answer questions.

In addition to their generous donors, one way the pantry is able to feed so many people is through the use of their event center. This space is located directly above the food pantry and is a popular rental space for many local events including grad parties, family reunions, quilters groups, even AA meetings. The space has been open for about five years and they are continually making improvements to it. All money generated through the use of the event center goes to the food pantry – such a unique idea!

Event space located above the food pantry.

The Foundation is proud to support organizations like the Creston Area Food Pantry that work so hard to end hunger in their communities. You can learn more about the pantry by following them on Facebook. If you know an organization that could benefit from a Carma Mohler Hunger Grant, learn more by visiting our website. Applications are accepted July 1 – October 1 annually.